Você fala português?
Some people say we need English to communicate worldwide. Others claim that Mandarin is the language of the future. French used to be taught at schools. Spanish is the third most spoken language in the world. So, which is the best language to learn when planning a trip abroad?
I'm fluent at Portuguese and English, but I know a little bit or two of other languages. If I'm traveling to another country I like to study at least the "traveler basics", like: hi, thanks, please and a few other expressions in order to sound more polite. And I definitely recommend you to do the same, it's a little thing that shows you care.
I've traveled to six different countries that had, as their mother tongue, a language different from my own. This immersion is great, because it completely takes you out of your comfort zone. Suddenly you have no idea what people are talking about, the signs are a little confusing, it's difficult to order something to eat, you have to be alert to the street's names, and asking for information is always a brave thing to do, since you never know if you'll be understood.
After traveling and listening to six different languages in my trips, I came to a conclusion: I discovered the TRUE universal language!
It's not a language! It's a non-verbal expression! Simply smiling!
You don't have to learn all the languages in the world. There's this simple shortcut to a conversation starter, when nobody knows what language to speak, when you don't know any other mime to what you want. You look polite, receptive, friendly, happy!
This is the true universal language. When words got in the way, I smiled! Everybody smiles, no problem with accents, talking speed, vocabulary, grammar; with a simple smile you can "talk" to anybody from anywhere! Your French is a little rusty? Italian? Dutch? German? Smile and do your best!